New Data Reveals Race, Gender, Political Affiliations of Mass Murderers Since 1998

A memorial for the victims of the mass murder that took place in El Paso in 2019 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A new dataset from the Crime Prevention Research Center compiles the demographic makeup of all mass public shooters in the United States since 1998, and the top-line results appear to contradict media stereotypes about the kind of people who use firearms to commit atrocities.

While mass murderers are majority white (57%) and male (96%), whites and Hispanics are underrepresented among mass murders compared to their share of the total American population. By contrast, those of Middle Eastern descent, Asians, blacks, and American Indians are all above their population shares.

In terms of religion, the vast majority of mass murderers are not religious or do not profess any particular religious faith. Christians comprise the largest religious group, but their share among mass murderers is far lower than their share of the larger American population. By contrast, Muslims and non-Christian religions are overrepresented compared to their share of the population.

SEE ALSO: LA Times: These Gun Laws Would Have Stopped All But One Mass Shooting Over the Last Five Years

Politically speaking, most mass shooters do not divulge any political leanings. The next most common political affiliation is “Islamic extremism,” followed by indications that suggest right-leaning and left-leaning beliefs.

“Mass public shootings” is defined as those cases where four or more people are killed at one point in time in a public place and not involving some other type of crime such as a gang fight or a robbery.

Dr. John Lott, the researcher who compiled the data, believes these facts contradict the perception that mass murderers are all white supremacists.

“Entertainment television continually provides a false impression of those who commit mass public shootings and how they commit them,” Lott says on his website. “…another myth is that attacks are frequently by white supremacists. Yet, that is far from the case.”

It is somewhat unclear where Lott sees evidence for this statement. “White supremacist” is not a political affiliation, according to Lott’s data, and there have been at least two mass murderers who articulated white supremacist beliefs since 1998, Dylann Roof and Patrick Crusius.

SEE ALSO: Bloomberg-Funded Study Finds that ‘Assault Weapon’ Bans Don’t Stop Mass Shootings

In response to our inquiry, Lott pointed out that while “white supremacist” is not a political category, he did compile information about whether the suspect was a neo-Nazi or part of some similar group. They also noted whether the case might have been a hate crime in the “part of other crime” column of the spreadsheet.

Dylann Roof, for example, is listed as a “right-wing extremist,” Robert Bowers is listed as “anti-Jewish” and Patrick Crusius is listed as “anti-government.”

Still, for the vast majority of suspects, it is not known whether they held any beliefs that suggest sympathies with white supremacism.

The data set proves that, with the exception of gender, mass murderers are more diverse than the media and politicians would have Americans believe. White supremacists may garner the most media attention, but the data doesn’t appear to be robust enough to make many generalizations.

Click here to download the data and check it out yourself. Also, please consider supporting Dr. Lott and the Crime Prevention Research Center.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Ro March 7, 2021, 1:23 pm

    So…if I told you I could eliminate 57% of mass murders by dealing with what facilitates them to become that vs 15% or 7% or combined 22% of mass murders…which number do you take? Obviously you would want all but we don’t want to have honest conversations about the creation and proliferation of institutional poverty (particularly for those in poverty and employed…which is alot). Eliminate poverty and watch ALL these numbers drop off…at this stage if this isn’t part of your political party’s or candidate’s platform…or your local community’s imperative its time for a shift…

    • Frank March 7, 2021, 5:30 pm

      So if I follow your reasoning… poverty constitutes some sort of excuse for mass murder and other violent crime?!? YOU and others who subscribe to the same asinine logic, are the ones needing a “shift”.

      • Ro March 9, 2021, 11:13 am

        ..if poverty is a huge factor that contributes to crime and we as a community/country can eliminate poverty then why not do it? If it means it impacted the decision balance in someone or placed them out of circumstances that enabled the unwanted behavior…what’s your problem? Behavior isn’t something independent of its environment…its a reason why crime is prevalent among the impoverished…if it can save lives from both the respect of potential victims AND the added benefit of people (particularly children) not growing up in it (and the long term positive impact that could have)…we have no excuse in this country to have poverty…we have the resources and means to replicate and mass produce to support the need.

      • Ro March 9, 2021, 5:35 pm

        And to be frank, Frank, the status quo of mass incarceration, police state policy, and vigilantism certainly havn’t worked….in other countries eliminating poverty has.

        • Frank March 14, 2021, 9:47 am

          Hmmm… I looked diligently throughout your replies for the answer to my question. It isn’t there, because there is NO justification for said behaviors…. certainly not in the “socioeconomic” drivel of your original post. You may of course, think and say whatever you choose. I took an oath to defend that right for you. If however, you still find that someone’s rung on the economic ladder provides justification for mass murder and outright, lawless violence, then my original point still stands… You are the one who needs to “shift” your thinking.

        • Frank March 14, 2021, 9:58 am

          … and to continue being “Frank”, after working my ass into the ground for most of my life, I now live on a small disability check. Yet somehow I don’t feel like I’m entitled to take other people’s belongings from them… or to do violence to those who have more wealth, simply because life dealt me a crappy hand in that I can no longer work for a living. Perhaps those for whom you feel so obliged to advocate, should try that… “work”.

    • Big Al 45 March 15, 2021, 3:11 pm

      I would point out that the Democrats have had a ‘war on poverty’ for more than 40 years, it ain’t working.
      So sorry, but I flat out don’t buy your theory, most especially since you insisted on using the term “institutional poverty”.
      That is a Left term, and I never bought it.
      You can lead a horse to water, and a human to an education, but ya can’t make them smart if they aren’t interested.

  • Mad Mac March 5, 2021, 11:14 am

    The headline was mass murders but the dataset is for mass public shooters. Which is it?

    Is Timothy McVeigh’s federal building bombing included?

    While it is true that the typical mass shooter is a middle-aged white male, as a group they may well be under represented.

    If the data included jihad knife attacks, which rarely exceed three fatalities before being stopped, and jihad vehicle attacks, Muslims would have a much higher over representation. This study is not inclusive enough.

    • Winston March 5, 2021, 12:18 pm

      Black males led the country in mass shootings in 2020 as the homicide rate went up 28% nationwide. That is an unprecedented increase in hte last 50 years.

  • Dale Kehrer March 5, 2021, 10:58 am

    Well, you can look at it this way, the higher the percentage, the more that group has been discriminated against, thus has a beef. People don’t wake up one day and decide to go out and do these kind of things.

  • Godfrey Daniel March 5, 2021, 10:56 am

    What is “Rachial Demographics” as in the heading of the first box shown? Does it have something to do with people named Rachel?

  • Ben March 5, 2021, 9:04 am

    Pretty fancy mental gymnastics to avoid the fact that most murderers are extremely conservative white christians

    • Kane March 5, 2021, 10:27 am

      Actually, the data indicates that Whites, Hispanics, Christians and Jews are all under-represented as “mass-murderers” in the US.

      Do you have data that argues otherwise?

    • Fal Phil March 5, 2021, 10:59 am

      Didn’t do well in reading comprehension or logic in school, eh?

    • chumley ortega March 5, 2021, 9:30 pm

      I’m sure that twist of logic would make feel you much safer in Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Newark, DC, Oakland, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Philadelphia, East St Louis or Mogadishu.

  • Clint W. March 5, 2021, 8:57 am

    This guy needed to run spell check. I was going to forward this to some folks, but the number of misspellings is an embarrassment and that muddies the credentials of the writer.

  • JGinNJ March 5, 2021, 7:49 am

    There is so much politics involved with the collection and publication of data. Someone has pointed out the definition of a mass murder. Curious to know if sexual orientation or marital status numbers are allowed to be published. How about tattoos, employment history, favorite music. level of debt, internet search word history, credit card usage … I suspect that color of skin is among the least of the distinguishing characteristics.

  • Jeff March 5, 2021, 7:43 am

    I think I understand leaving out the gang shootings. If you look at the FBI murder numbers blacks win by a landslide. Mass murder vs all killing is a different thing all together. Black on black, white on white , black on white and white on black are all numbers the FBI reports. I don’t know if they do murder per financial situation. That would be interesting, Id like to see those numbers for both murder vs mass murder as well. Interesting note that Hispanic is counted as white by the FBI or was

    • gre March 5, 2021, 8:18 am

      Hispanic is an ethnicity…not a race.

      • Kane March 5, 2021, 10:31 am

        Hispanic is a category that is used by researchers (FBI) to skew statistics.

  • Leighton J Cavendish March 5, 2021, 6:57 am

    Numbers might change a lot if the included ALL mass shootings. Look at that definition:
    “Mass public shootings” is defined as those cases where four or more people are killed at one point in time in a public place and not involving some other type of crime such as a gang fight or a robbery.

    Specifically excludes gang violence. Hmmm.

  • Leigh March 5, 2021, 6:49 am

    NOT including ALL mass shootings (including gang violence)…is like reporting suicides in with all gun deaths as “gun violence”. The numbers are cooked from the start.

  • SG March 5, 2021, 4:03 am

    Huh? Are you saying that because the “72% No mention of political affiliation” is the same color as the “2% Right-Wing”? Because otherwise, I’m not seeing your point.

  • RGP March 2, 2021, 4:11 pm

    One of the most highly deceptive and sleazily worded pie charts I’ve ever seen…

    Whoever did those stats is a bs artist, deliberately twisting it so it can be used to help the leftists take over the world.

    • Todd C March 5, 2021, 4:44 am

      Huh?

    • Roland March 5, 2021, 7:53 am

      Please explain what you are saying what you posted makes no sense.

    • Bob & Landy Wood March 5, 2021, 8:37 am

      I think what RGP is saying is that the demographic tables are relatively straightforward, but the pie chart is imprecise at best while appearing entirely invalid. For example, the pie chart shows 1% of mass shooters did not vote for Trump, One could argue that this implies that 27% or possibly 99% of mass shooters did vote for Trump…. an implied statistic that I would bet has no basis in fact. Others have pointed out the flaw in the “study” by eliminating the criminal/gang component, after all… isn’t a mass shooting by very definition a criminal activity?

      Long story short, the study aims to remove “criminality” from the motivating factors of mass shootings; which means that the study is targeted at finding non-criminal motives behind violence (political ideology, religious ideology, flat out crazy, etc.) The study appears to fail at this goal, and at best only accurately provide racial (rachial?) demographic information. Even the religious demographics is suspect because “no mention of religion” simply indicates that the study lacked a verification method for a whole lot of data (as much as 63%).

      • Fee March 5, 2021, 11:53 am

        I think what is missing in this study is how many of the mass shooters are on psychotropic drugs for anxiety, depression, ADHD and etc. How long did these shooters take these drugs to control their stress and how young did they start on this regiment and treatment. I think most of these shooters all share a common factor, they have emotional problems aggravated by the drugs they take to control it. Add to this alcohol and recreational marijuana/drug use. Many of the student shooters at schools take medication for ADHD starting at a young age leading to suicidal and violent thoughts. Alcohol and drugs basically remove the inhibition to commit violence and murder. The Muslim mass shooters are the exception.

    • Kane March 5, 2021, 10:35 am

      Dr. John Lott may be controversial but he is well known and NOT as a “leftists.”

      • The Old Guy March 8, 2021, 5:56 pm

        I think “Rightists” would disagree.

        • Kane March 9, 2021, 10:19 pm

          “Dr. John Lott, the researcher who compiled the data, believes these facts contradict the perception that mass murderers are all white supremacists.”

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